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Except when so used or available for use in interstate or international commerce, the exclusive control of waters is vested in the state, whether the waters are deemed navigable in the federal sense or in any other sense.
Plaintiff trespasser sought judgment declaring his rights and those of the public to go upon the channel, between its high water marks, and to float upon the waters of the North Platte River where it flows upon and across defendant land owners' lands. Defendants denied plaintiff's and the public's right to either use the channel or to float upon the waters of the river as they crossed their lands, but joined in asking for declaratory judgment. Defendants owned land through which the North Platte River flows. Plaintiff, for himself and the public, claimed the right to use the bed and channel of the river and its waters to fish under license of the State.
Was the portion of the river navigable because it will float craft, and, therefore, the bed of the river is public property and can be used by the public between its high water marks for any purpose of which it is susceptible?
The court held that the portion of the river in dispute was nonnavigable and that its riparian owners had title to the bed and channel of the river, but that the title was subject to an easement for a right of way of the river's waters in their natural channel through, over and across defendants' lands. The court also held that the judgment of the lower court had to be reversed insofar as it permitted unrestricted walking or wading in or upon the bed or channel of the river and that the judgment be vacated in this respect.